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by Margaret Taylor
17 November 2023
Starmer in Aberdeen to reveal further details of Labour energy plan

Keir Starmer is meeting with business leaders in Aberdeen | Alamy

Starmer in Aberdeen to reveal further details of Labour energy plan

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will today meet with business leaders in Aberdeen five months after promising to hear their concerns over his plans for the energy industry.

Starmer came under fire in the summer when he used a visit to Leith to unveil plans for a Scotland-based public energy company after also confirming that a Labour government would oppose all new domestic oil and gas developments.

David Whitehouse, chief executive of trade body Offshore Energies UK, said the presumption against any new developments would put 90,000 Scottish jobs at risk, saying it was “no way to treat” those working in the industry.

Oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, who spent decades transforming Aberdeen-headquartered engineering company the Wood Group into a global energy leader before more recently turning his attentions to diversifying the local economy and advocating for the energy transition, said the mooted ban on future oil licences was “very concerning”, “environmentally damaging” and would risk “tens of thousands of jobs”.

Ryan Crichton, policy director at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said Labour’s stance on oil and gas was “not grounded in the realities of the energy transition and would drive away the very companies they want to partner with to make the UK a clean energy superpower”.

“Their failure to meaningfully engage with the people, companies and regions delivering the energy transition is evident in this naïve policy, which has now placed jobs, investment and energy security at risk,” he said.

Aberdeen councillor Barney Crockett, meanwhile, quit the party, telling Holyrood that he was angered over the fact Labour’s energy policy had been drawn up “without any contact with the North East at all”.

“I’ve always said that the distinctive feature of Aberdeen is that nobody listens to it – Aberdeen has a stronger voice in Brussels or Houston than in Edinburgh or London,” he said.

“Energy cities tend to have a strong voice in their countries – Stavanger in Norway, Houston in the US – but Aberdeen has been uniquely ignored. It has been for a long time, but this was so extreme and so blatant.”

In response, Starmer pledged to visit the North East by the end of summer, but will today make his first visit to Aberdeen since the plans were unveiled.

He will use the trip to announce further details of Labour’s proposed £2.5bn British Jobs Bonus, which is part of the party’s mission to make the UK a clean energy superpower and which North Sea industries will be eligible to apply for.

Speaking ahead of the trip Starmer, who will be accompanied by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband, said: “The road to making Britain a clean energy superpower, slashing energy bills and creating tens of thousands of quality jobs runs through Scotland and the North Sea.

“This Conservative Party has zero ambition, zero plan and zero concern for the millions of British families suffering sky-high energy bills as a result of the government’s abject failure.

“Every day that they play political games, causing uncertainty and investment risk for the sector, they are costing jobs and hitting people’s pockets.

“My Labour government will rise above short-termist gimmicks, put the country before our party, and deliver the long-term future of our energy industry.

“From establishing GB Energy, our publicly owned energy company headquartered in Scotland, to delivering the most significant investment in Scotland’s ports since privatisation, and securing the future of technologies like CCS, hydrogen, and offshore wind, with Labour, Scotland and the North Sea will power Britain’s clean energy future.”

Scottish energy minister Gillian Martin, a North East MSP, criticised Starmer’s plans, calling them "an insult to the people of the North East who deserve much better from Westminster".

“Successive UK governments have used Scotland’s energy industry as a cash cow while household energy bills rocket and communities intrinsically linked to the sector have become poorer,” she said.

She added that Starmer “must commit that the Scottish Government will be a key part of all discussions that involve Scotland’s wealth of natural resources to ensure households receive the full benefits of our green energy potential in terms of jobs, bills, energy security and business investment”.

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